Queen Elizabeth isn’t woke, she’s a feminist icon
THERE is a great story of how Queen Elizabeth II once schooled the King of Saudi Arabia in gender equality.
When the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz visited the Scottish royal estate of Balmoral in 1998, the Queen offered to show him around.
The then Crown Prince climbed into the passenger seat of a Land Rover and his translator sat in the back.
The Queen suddenly jumped in the driver's seat and floored it, to the horror of the Middle Eastern royal, whose nation at the time banned women from driving.
As the Queen - an infamous lead foot - sped through narrow Scottish estate lanes like a scene from a stately Fast and the Furious, she casually chatted away to the terrified Saudi prince.
"Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead," British diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles wrote in his memoir, confirming both the Queen and Abdullah had recounted the story to him.
This week the Queen was again celebrated for being, as the Twitter gallery declared, "badass".
Apparently, she dealt US President Donald Trump a subtle dig in gifting him an abridged first edition of Winston Churchill's The Second World War during his state visit to the United Kingdom.
She then allegedly threw further shade by wearing a tiara featuring Burmese rubies - meant to ward off evil - to the state banquet.
The anti-Trump cheer squad seemed to overlook the fact the Queen had worn the same tiara plenty of times before in the presence of world leaders.
They also ignored the possibility that her choice of red jewels, white gown and blue sash may have been a more obvious salute to the U.S.A.
While some on social media are now revering her as a sort of closet socialist heroine, I refuse to believe the 93-year-old monarch is "woke" - she is far too much of a snob for something so lowbrow.
However, to me, the Queen is a true feminist icon.
Yes, she inherited her position, but in her 67 years on the throne she has shown consistent grace, strength and resilience to become the most powerful woman in the world.
You don't have to slather on the virtue signalling or march in a knitted pink pussyhat to be a feminist.
The Queen has quietly normalised having a female at the centre of global leader gatherings.
Yet she has never been defined by her gender.
She was the only female member of the British royal family to join the armed forces and served as a military truck mechanic and driver during World War II.
She chose a husband who, despite his flaws, was never ashamed of having a powerful wife.
She oversaw the Succession to the Crown Act that effectively ended the tradition of male primogeniture that previously allowed a younger son to displace an elder daughter from the throne.
And in her first Instagram post, she shared a piece of feminist history by giving a shout out to Ada Lovelace, known as the first computer programmer.
She is, as Trump declared, a "great, great woman".
So it seems strangely contradictory that today more men than women are being celebrated in her honour - the Queen's Birthday Honours.
It's not the first time.
In the Order of Australia's four-decade history, only 30 per cent of the honours have gone to women.
Nearly two-thirds of last year's Queen's Birthday Order of Australia award recipients were men.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons says it's because we undervalue women's work: "That tells me that women's work is not worthy of an award. That is a nonsense. Let's change this."
Both the UK and New Zealand governments have made concerted efforts to boost gender equality in their awards.
This year's Australian male recipients, announced on Sunday, will include former politicians, world-famous entertainers and sporting giants.
Meanwhile trailblazing media stars are among the female awardees.
But surely it's time for equal representation?
This is not a proposition for an awards-equivalent of a boardroom quota, but at least an increased effort in nominating the deserving women in our community that may be overlooked.
Even the Queen herself has acknowledged the importance of women in society, telling the 2015 centenary celebrations of the Women's Institute: "In the modern world, the opportunities for women to give something of value to society are greater than ever, because, through their own efforts, they now play a much greater part in all areas of public life."
Maybe we just need her Majesty to get behind the wheel and put pedal to the metal on this one.
Lucy Carne is the editor of RendezView.com.au.